See the new book from Edward R. Smith:

The Temple Sleep of the Rich Young Ruler
How Lazarus Became the Evangelist John
ISBN: 9780880107327
6 x 9 inches
366 pages
October 2011

Also, read Smith's ruminations on Luke and Secret Mark. This is exclusive content that is not included in the book.

What is Anthroposophy?

Anthroposophy was founded, and is essentially based, upon Rudolf Steiner's prophetic intuition of the spiritual world. That world's character as Steiner explains it, so foreign to worldly thinking, is profoundly and pervasively reflected in the Bible when its words of spiritual art are given their deeper occult meaning. Anthroposophy shows that the reading of the Bible in its common understanding, as wonderful as that can be, does not reveal its deeper message—one that gives its perplexingly difficult sections and passages deep spiritual meaning as part of a uniform theme consistent from Genesis to Revelation. Consequently, this work undertakes in its first several volumes to examine key terms and phrases that in themselves, when anthroposophically understood, cast the Bible in an entirely new light, one that can stir the soul with indescribable joy and lift it to a new level of understanding and eventually to a higher consciousness.

While to a very large degree Rudolf Steiner's powerful revelations carry within themselves the unique conviction of authority, particularly for those highly conversant with both scripture and phenomena, sooner or later the serious student must look intensely into Steiner's life story to evaluate the sources of his insight. Extensive biographical resources for that search are available. The following paragraphs taken from the Introduction by Christopher Bamford to the recent Anthroposophy in Everyday Life (AEL) offer a brief sketch of Steiner and the milieu into which he was placed:

A major task facing humanity as it moves into the new millennium is that of uniting spiritual and practical life. In the Middle Ages the time of Christendom science, art, religion, and society were still to a great extent united. Untold monks and nuns labored and loved mightily for the sake of God and the world. Their lives of prayer and devotion, centered around the Eucharist, kept the interior flame of worship burning brightly. Radiating outward, the spiritual consequences of their steadfastness resonated throughout the landscape, impregnating villages, towns, and cities with a sense of the divine presence in the world. At this time, too, great cathedrals and humble churches alike filled ordinary people with the understanding that every aspect of life participated in God's purpose. Scholars, philosophers, scientists, and crafts people all of whom contributed to the creation of a sacramental vision of the world in which each thing and every human act were imbued with spiritual significance gathered around these Houses of the Spirit, amplifying its effectiveness.

This pervasive sense of the sacred also existed in earlier, pre-Christian times, when the priests and hierophants of the ancient Mystery Centers and Temples coordinated human culture in a way that permitted the spirit to realize itself in the manner appropriate to the moment. But, with the rise of the Modern Age, a powerful cleft was driven between human beings, nature, and the divine. We may call the process "secularization." Religion and spiritual life became increasingly marginalized. Instead of spiritual realities, human beings pursued this-worldly ends, such as comfort and wealth. Thus, gradually, the thread connecting saints and esoteric masters with the general life of humanity was broken; meaning fragmented; and the sacramental relation of human beings to each other and the cosmos ceased to function. Materialism in its many guises (Positivism, Darwinism, Marxism etc.) now became the guiding principle in science and society. Religion and culture-religion and the state were separated and spiritual; religious life became a question of individual responsibility.

This was a heavy burden to bear for individuals who had not only to create a spiritual life for themselves, but increasingly had to do so in opposition to the very quarters from which help might have been expected. For, as society plunged into materialism, the Churches, not wishing to be left out, joined willingly in the descent. There were, of course, exceptions to this tendency, but such generally was the situation at the beginning of the twentieth century when Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) began to teach, initially under the auspices of the Theosophical Society.

As a natural clairvoyant, of great spiritual gifts, Steiner began his journey by assimilating the best of what the culture of his time had to offer. He chose for himself a scientific-technical education. At the same time, realizing the need to transform our present consciousness so that it might become a vehicle of spiritual knowledge, he undertook a phenomenological study of the processes by which we come to know what is called 'epistemology.' Up against the pervasive influence of the philosopher Kant, who maintained that we could never truly know anything in itself but only our own forms of thought, Steiner knew from his own experience as a free spiritual being that the possibility of brain-free thinking lay within the capacity of human beings who thus could know truly and fully the world's actual spiritual reality. In two central early works Truth and Knowledge [TK] and Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path [originally, The Philosophy Of Freedom and then in America, The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (PSA)] he laid the ground for what he would accomplish in the future. He was greatly helped in this work of preparation by prolonged study and meditation on the scientific works of Goethe, which he was asked to edit for a new edition of the Complete Works the Kurschner "Deutschen Nationalliterature" edition. From this, too, a series of fundamental, groundbreaking texts resulted [Goethean Science (GS), Goethean World View (GWV) and The Science of Knowing(SK)].

During this period, though already initiated into his spiritual task, Steiner was still very much a free thinker of his time. Then, as he wrote in his autobiography in the original English translation The Course of My Life (CML), now Autobiography, Chapters in the Course of My Life: 1861-1907/Rudolf Steiner (AUTO), "shortly before the turn of the century," a profound experience was given to him: an experience that "culminated in my standing in the spiritual presence of the Mystery of Golgotha in a most profound and solemn festival of knowledge." This experience marked a call. Shortly thereafter, he left the literary and philosophical world of letters and joined his destiny to the movement for the renewal of spiritual knowledge in our time.

The tasks lying before him were manifold. In order to undertake them, he realized that, acting wholly and freely out of the spirit, he would also have to connect himself horizontally with the various traditions flowing together to herald the possibility of a "new age of light."

He linked himself first to the Theosophical Society founded by H. P. Blavatsky, becoming the secretary of the German Section. From the very beginning, he made complete independence and autonomy the condition of his taking on this task. Thus, as an independent spiritual teacher, working within the Theosophical Society, Steiner began to lecture freely from his own experience on spiritual matters. At the same time, he began to work more esoterically transforming the legacy of masonic, hermetic, and esoteric students. From this period (1904-1910) date what would become the basic texts of Anthroposophy currently in English translation Christianity as Mystical Fact (CMF) in 1902, How to Know Higher Worlds (HKHW) Theosophy (THSY) and Outline of Esoteric Science (OES) and the previously published Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path (ITSP) in 1894. But Anthroposophy itself, under that name, would not arise as a separate, independent spiritual movement until 1913 when, as as result of the controversy surrounding the young Krishnamurti (whether he was, or was not, the reincarnation of Christ [Steiner himself denying such]) Steiner split permanently from the Adyar theosophists.

From the beginning, Steiner saw his task as the rescue of humanity from materialism and secularism. He knew that for evolution the divine work of the Gods to continue in an organic, healthy, direction, the world and human beings which are essentially not two, but one must once again be seen and lived as the profound spiritual reality they are. The task of Anthroposophy, he recognized, could not proceed piecemeal, but called for a renewal of culture as a whole: a bringing together of science, religion, and art in sacred unity. It was in this sense that Steiner described the work of Anthroposophy as the renewal of ancient Mysteries. But renewal here does not mean repetition. The old must die away for the new to come into being. But it cannot simply be replaced by something already known, no matter how illustrious or well tested. Rather, something new must be created. But such a new revelation can no longer be received passively from the Gods, as was the case in previous epochs. It must now be created by, in, and through human beings.




What is Anthroposophy? Part 2